How To Learn Mentalism For Beginners
The History of Mentalism
Girolamo Scotto performed the first recorded mentalism act back in 1572, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that mentalism really started to become popular. Since then, mentalism has undergone a complete evolution thanks to performers like Kreskin, Annemann, Koran and more. In more recent years, Uri Gellar and then Derren Brown have really set the world on fire with their own brands of mentalism.
Mentalism is now more popular than ever and more and more beginners are interested in learning how to make it look like you can read minds, control people’s actions and more. You can read more about the history of mentalism here.
The Real Secret To Mentalism
Before we dive into the best ways to learn mentalism as a beginner including resources, further reading and even some free, easy magic tricks you can get started with today, we want to tell you the real secret about strong mentalism. It’s just one word:
That’s it. Seriously. It’s the key to it all.
Andy Nyman is an actor and mentalist. He created most of the material in Derren Brown’s TV shows and co-wrote and directed all his stage shows. We were lucky enough to have him as a guest on our podcast. We highly recommend you spend an hour of your time watching or listening to this as the gold Andy shares will give you a very solid foundation to build your own mentalism on.
Andy Nyman Interview Part One
Andy Nyman Interview Part Two
OK. Watched that? Good. As we were saying, the real secret is acting, but don’t get too worried about that fact you think you can’t act. You can.
Have you ever done a French Drop? You were lying. You pretended to take the coin, but you didn’t. Liar! Ever done any sleight of hand with anything? You were lying! You were pretending to do nothing, but were secretly doing something. Liar!
See, you don’t have to be able recite Macbeth to be an actor. You have to be able to lie! Maybe acting should just be called lying!
With mentalism, you have to lie about being able to read someone’s mind, or influence their choices, or pretend you had a premonition about something that was going to happen. It’s all just acting. The better you can lie, the better you can make someone think you can really do the feats you’re pretending you are doing.
Obviously you didn’t poison the blue M&Ms when you’re performing Hector Chadwick’s devilishly clever M&M trick from The Mental Mysteries of Hector Chadwick.
Clearly, you can’t really know which chair someone is going to sit on.
You cannot tell people things about themselves that are secret like Marc Paul teaches you how to do on his incredible Q&A video.
You have to lie. So, the question is, how do you lie effectively?
Self-belief. This is the key to learning mentalism for beginners. If you (pretend) to believe that you can really do whatever you are claiming to be able to do, your audience will too.
Yes, we’d recommend more than that. Pete McCabe’s Scripting Magic 1 and Scripting Magic 2 books will really help you out. Finding a local community theater group, improv class, or anything like that will really help too. But the key to unlocking a good mentalism performance is self-belief.
You manage it when you do an easy magic trick like a French Drop and pretend to put a coin in your hand, so you can do it when you pretend to read someone’s mind.
The other important point is to work out the “why”. Why can you do what you claim you can do? Derren (and hence almost every single mentalist since) has said it is to do with reading mirc-expressions, NLP, or similar. Can you think of something more original? One act we saw years ago had the mentalist pretend when he got drunk he could read people’s minds, so the act consisited of him polishing off a bottle of whisky (apple juice) and getting more and more drunk as the act got more and more difficult. Wonderful thinking. So we urge you to really think long and hard about WHY you can read minds/influence behaviour/predict the future.
Learn Free Mentalism Tricks For Beginners
We’ve already written a few articles which will teach you some very simple - but very strong - mind reading tricks you can start learning now.
If you're interested in other types of magic, we got you:
You Can Read Anyone's Mind
Here’s the deal, yes, you can absolutely read people’s minds with the tricks we link to above. But if you want to go to the next level, we recommend you start off with something called The Psychic Deck. It is miracle level business! Here’s what happens.
You take out a deck of cards and place it on your spectator’s hand. Explain you’ve had a premonition and think you know what they are about to say. You’ve turned one card the wrong way round in the deck. You ask them to name any card in the deck. And it really can be any card. You take out the cards, fan through them and amazingly, it is the card they named. This is a very clever, mechanical deck that does all the work for you. If you can add up to 13, you can do it. We promise.
Buy The Psychic Deck now